Monday, July 21, 2008

'The Dark Knight': Must-see Film, Best in Genre and Best Film this Year by Far


For those who have not yet seen The Dark Knight, you must go see it. It is by far the best Batman film ever made and, in addition, stands on its own as a crime drama. If the late Heath Ledger was still alive, his performance in the film would have made him.

"I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker. Miles from Jack Nicholson's broadly funny take on the role in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what's comic is hardly a relief. No plastic mask for Ledger; his face is caked with moldy makeup that highlights the red scar of a grin, the grungy hair and the yellowing teeth of a hound fresh out of hell. To the clown prince of crime, a knife is preferable to a gun, the better to "savor the moment."

The deft script, by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, taking note of Bob Kane's original Batman and Frank Miller's bleak rethink, refuses to explain the Joker with pop psychology. Forget Freudian hints about a dad who carved a smile into his son's face with a razor. As the Joker says, "What doesn't kill you makes you stranger."

The Joker represents the last completed role for Ledger, who died in January at 28 before finishing work on Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It's typical of Ledger's total commitment to films as diverse as Brokeback Mountain and I'm Not There that he does nothing out of vanity or the need to be liked. If there's a movement to get him the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch won for 1976's Network, sign me up. Ledger's Joker has no gray areas — he's all rampaging id. Watch him crash a party and circle Rachel, a woman torn between Bale's Bruce (she knows he's Batman) and Eckhart's DA, another lover she has to share with his civic duty. "Hello, beautiful," says the Joker, sniffing Rachel like a feral beast. He's right when he compares himself to a dog chasing a car: The chase is all. The Joker's sadism is limitless, and the masochistic delight he takes in being punched and bloodied to a pulp would shame the Marquis de Sade. "I choose chaos," says the Joker, and those words sum up what's at stake in The Dark Knight. "

-Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


AH Dabaja said...

i too agree, heath's performance really made this movie worth watching.

what i found odd about this batman were the political undertones, much more blatant than recent films highlighting "terrorism" and a departure from the batman begins prequel which focused more on human concepts of self-realization and growth.

watching the movie, i felt uneasy at times, almost nauseated. I felt the political statements made almost legitimized recent/current practices of *certain* governments.

So much for batman representing unadulterated heroism and justice.

"علي " said...

I felt that this film was closer to what the original comic book character of Batman was like. He occupied a hard-to-define space between the law and the criminals. At heart he is a vigilante but he does good things, depending on one's point of view.